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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coupon Organization

If you are going to get into couponing you need to find an organization method that works for you. I'm going to go over a few methods and then explain the method behind the madness of how I organize my coupons. In the end, you need to find a method that works for you!

Envelopes - If you have just a few coupons, a common mailing envelope might just work for you and its very inexpensive. However, I suspect that this method won't hold up very long. Envelopes are flimsy and can start to fall apart in a hurry. Also, as you collect more coupons you are going to need a way to separate them into categories.

Accordian File - This is a step of from the envelopes but you are limited in the amount of storage. However, this does give you a chance to start sorting coupons into sections (i.e. baking, canned goods, meats, ect). Here is a view of Freebies 4 Mom's accordian file. These can usually be found at office supply stores. They also have cardboard varieties at dollar stores.

Binder - This method consists of keeping all of your coupons in some type of binder. You can use baseball card holders or photo holders to separate your coupons. You can sort using either the A-Z method or by categories. Stephanie at Couponing 101 has a great video post of her binder. Here are some more binder examples that you could easily make on your own.

Inserts Only - With this method you simply save your coupon inserts each week. You can sort them with a large accordian file by date or just put them in a big stack like me (see below). Once you are ready to shop, you can use a matchup blog or coupon database to show you which coupons matchup to the weekly sales and where to find them (i.e. 1/3 SS would be a coupon in the SmartSource insert which was delivered in the January 3rd edition of the Sunday paper).

My Method - I use a combination of methods. I don't like clipping every coupon each week so I tend to stick more with the Insert Only method. It seems to be a big time saver for me. However, I like to have some coupons with me in case I run across an unadvertised deal or clearance item. Besides, I have to put all my printable coupons somewhere so I use the accordion file as well. There are several cute Hannah Hansen coupon organizers like mine on Ebay. Each Sunday I flip through the inserts and only clip the coupons for items or brands I KNOW we will use. The remainder of coupons stay intact and are filed away by insert date into my big stack. When I sit down to prepare my list, I match up sales with coupons and locate them via a Coupon Database. I pull those inserts and clip out only what I need and put them back.

**It should be noted that I recently switched to the binder method, you can read about how I made the switch**

Expired Coupons - No matter what method you use, you will have to deal with pulling expired coupons. I recommend getting into this habit at least once a month and know that the majority of coupons will expire on the last day of any given month. If you use the Insert Only Method you will want to check out this post which lists the inserts that still have valid coupons in them. After I pull the expired coupons, I prepare them for shipment to a military base overseas. Did you know that they can use coupons up to six months past the expiration date. I currently ship mine to a base in Germany. Check out the details on how to ship expired coupons.

What type of organization system do you use?



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